How Netflix pioneered cloud computing

Cloud computing: Using Netflix on TV

Cloud computing can simplify and enhance any business – and this is especially true in the competitive market of streaming video providers. Netflix was one of the first to migrate most of its services to the cloud, and the online video leader provides helpful recommendations for any business looking to leverage cloud potential.

Video Delivery Entirely from the Cloud

Netflix began using cloud services in 2009, before streaming video usage became widespread. As the consumer base began to discover the simplicity and benefits of watching movies and TV shows online, Netflix moved more of its infrastructure to the cloud. By November 2012, Netflix’s entire technological infrastructure was housed almost entirely on the public cloud.

No longer must video files be filtered through a data center – Netflix’s front-end services are all now processed via Tomcat JavaServer and NGINX web servers. Netflix has also sourced out its processes for developer use, showing that an open source, public-cloud based infrastructure can work for any high-demand business. The company even sponsored an online challenge for cloud developers, offering $100,000 to improve the features and resources of cloud computing.

Defending the Cloud

Full-scale cloud migration has its benefits, but it can also challenge a company’s ability to manage traffic. Netflix foresaw this hurdle, developing a series of tools that test the strengths and weaknesses of the cloud infrastructure. Named the “Simian Army,” the tools would attempt to cause service disruptions, induce artificial latency delays, monitor CPU load, clear waste, and simulate provider-wide outages.

One of the tools in particular, dubbed “Chaos Monkey,” attempts to wreak havoc on the infrastructure in a controlled setting, allowing developers to pinpoint areas of improvement. The service isn’t completely immune from large-scale cloud disruptions, but smaller outages can be sidestepped to assure content delivery to the consumer.

Netflix’s Cloud Computing Lessons for Other Businesses

While many businesses are comfortable with a tiered-approach to cloud and legacy computing, Netflix is showing how companies can completely shift to the cloud without much hassle. Here are some key lessons for businesses looking to leverage cloud computing services:

Fear Not the Public Cloud: Netflix operates everything on a public, open source platform. While this is not ideal for many businesses, they shouldn’t fret security concerns with a public platform. We at Dell are able to adjust and scale to any new or existing infrastructure, with extensive security measures to ensure the quality of sensitive data.

Utilize the Hybrid Cloud: The thought of shifting legacy content to the cloud may frighten system administrators, but hybrid cloud services offer a “best-of-both-worlds” approach. Netflix might be able to operate entirely on the cloud, but your business doesn’t need to make such a drastic leap yet.

Cloud is Expanding Fast: Just three years ago, Netflix was operating mostly within legacy infrastructure. Businesses are shifting to cloud computing at increasing rates, and that shift is tricking down to mid-market as well. Netflix pioneered the evolution of cloud, and now everyone else is joining the movement.

Is your mid-market or enterprise business still wary of cloud development? Let us know in the comments, and find out how Dell can help create a customized plan for your needs.

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Dennis Smith

Dennis Smith

Dell Contributor at Tech Page One
Dennis is the networking and storage evangelist for He also manages the Dell TechCenter social accounts; click on the tabs above to be connected to them. Dennis has also been recognized as aVMware vExpert.
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith
Tags: Cloud Computing,Technology